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Janitors For GRB And Other Houston Venues Will Earn $12/Hour By 2021 With New Contract

SEIU Texas represents the workers, whose new collective bargaining agreement also includes up to two paid days in case of a natural disaster

Houston janitors who are members of SEIU Texas and some supporters rallied in front of the the George R. Brown Convention Center in June 2017, when the negotiations for their new contract started.
Photo provided by Eli Magaña (SEIU Texas)
Houston janitors who are members of SEIU Texas and some supporters rallied in front of the the George R. Brown Convention Center in June 2017, as the negotiations were ongoing.

The janitors that work at Houston's George R. Brown (GRB) Convention Center will receive a series of pay increases that will have them earning a minimum wage of $12 per hour by the year 2021, according to the Texas chapter of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) –the union that represents the workers— and Midwest Maintenance, the company that hires them.

SEIU Texas announced in a news release sent on Friday that the workers ratified the collective bargaining agreement on Thursday afternoon.

Roughly 100 workers, many of them immigrants, will be benefited by the new contract, which will be valid until March 1, 2021. The workers are hired by Midwest Maintenance, which is based in Omaha (Nebraska), and has a contract with Houston First, a corporation the City of Houston created in 2011 and is tasked with managing several city venues, including the GRB.

Jones Hall, the Miller Outdoor Theater and the Wortham Theater Center, among others, are some additional facilities managed by Houston First and the new contract also applies to the service personnel who work at them.

The majority of workers covered by the new contract perform janitorial work –technically, they are called housekeepers and they are the bulk of employees earning the minimum pay rate—, but there are other workers with different titles that are also part of the new collective bargaining agreement, such as custodial supervisors, floor technicians, floor supervisors, customer service representatives and porters.

As Houston Public Media reported in December, the negotiations between SEIU Texas and Midwest Maintenance started last year.

The pay increase will be from the current minimum wage of $9.35 to $12 per hour. “The contract calls for a pay increase each year over the next three years and the first one will occur on April First (of 2018),” SEIU Texas spokesman Eli Magaña explained.

Another benefit of the new contract is a reduction in the monthly out-of-pocket health care premium contribution for the workers, which will go down from $111 to $67.

Additionally, the workers will have up to two paid days if a natural disaster happens and they can't get to their workplace. Magaña noted that gain “is important because many of these workers are impacted when flooding occurs” and SEIU's news release underscored the work union members did at the GRB during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Mark Oldaker, president of Midwest Maintenance, said in an email sent to Houston Public Media that his company “from the beginning has been a partner with the SEIU of Texas.”